Government announces Air India staff integration process

Unveiling the Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari Committee report that had addressed the contentious human resource issues in the merged entity, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh promised employees of the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines parity in pay scales and working hours, saying "this (employees' integration) is necessary if merger (in Air India) has to succeed, if Air India has to survive".

Although Air India and Indian Airlines were merged five years ago, there was hardly any integration of the two airlines' cadres.

Friday's announcement generated hopes that the 25-day-old pilots' strike that has crippled international operations of Air India will end soon.

The members of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), representing aviators of the erstwhile Air India, have been on strike since May 8 protesting the move to train their counterparts from Indian Airlines on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Singh again asked the agitating pilots to resume work before any negotiations are held.

The pilots, when contacted by IANS, reiterated their demand of reinstatement of 101 sacked aviators and said none of their major issues were resolved by the announcement.

On the promotions front, the Dharmadhikari Committee has recommended the constitution of departmental promotion committees (DPCs) to ensure that this is done in a fair and comprehensive manner.

Each DPC will have a fair representation from Air India and Indian Airlines and would also include an outside expert. The DPCs will have 45 days to consult the employees and recommend the procedure through which seniority of rank will be maintained.

"They (committees) will consult all the unions, will take opinion of employees and then look at the best suited procedure for promotions," Singh told IANS.

"We have been upfront in examining the suggestions of Dharmadhikari committee and now we have finally put it in front of the employees."

The promotions were frozen in 2011 following constitution of the Dharmadhikari Committee.

Singh said that April 1, 2007 "has been set as cut-off date for new pay scales. For the purpose of implementing new pay scales ... there will be uniform pay scale for all employees of the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines".

The Dharmadhikari report says the pay scale should be as per DPE (department of public enterprises) norms for the executive cadre and as per industry norms for the non-executive cadre which includes pilots, cabin crews and engineers.

"Certain allowances that are given to them (pilots, cabin crew and engineers) fall outside the DPE guidelines. For the allowances to be given we require approval of the union cabinet," Singh without divulging the nature and scope of such allowances.

The committee has also recommended profit-related pay as per DPE guidelines which will be linked to the profit earned by the company and the achievement of various targets.

According to a senior Air India official, another spin-off from the committee's proposals apart from a better HR environment in the airline will be a pay saving of Rs.250 crore per annum.

"If the recommendations are fully pressed into action than savings on account of pay to the employees will come down by Rs.250 crore. Currently, we have a total salary payout to employees at Rs.3,200 crore per annum," he said.

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